The traditional fashion retail landscape, as well as how people consume fashion, continues to change rapidly. Pressures and restrictions from COVID 19 and pre-pandemic consumer shifts to buying more online have led to a significantly different looking retail sector from even a few years ago. This change is highlighted by online retailer ASOS buying Arcadia brands such as Topshop and Miss Selfridge after Arcadia’s collapse, and Boohoo buying the online-only section of once British high street mainstay Debenhams.
Failing brands being acquired by other businesses is not new. But this shift to an increasing online-only offering demonstrates the need for practical, agile and sustainable supply chains globally.
Supply chains that are consolidated and optimised not only are more efficient logistically; they also give brands, manufacturers and even consumers the tools to tackle sustainability in these expansive chains. These supply chains typify global interconnectivity across the globe, and to remain transparent, clear information must be readily available.
Consolidation and optimisation of supply chains: sustainability and profit
For many years, supply chains have been created to focus on reliability and efficiency, allowing the fastest supply at the lowest cost. The result? Often murky, rigid, stretched, and costly supply chains which make it incredibly difficult for brands, consumers and manufacturers to understand, let alone make impactful decisions.
Consolidating and optimising supply chains is the most effective way to ensure supply chains are fit for the future, cost-effective, agile and streamlined. These are fundamental business goals for high-volume, low-cost fashion brands to remain competitive in a saturated market. But it’s also especially true for brands that have been integrated into others, bringing added stock traceability issues, accounting for pre-ordered stock and managing distribution effectively. Managing increasing ‘omni-channel’ presence is also a challenge.
Optimised supply chains become more efficient across the entire process, driving cost efficiencies with incremental, data-driven changes to allow intelligent decisions on purchasing, production and consumer-driven demand.
As well as logistics and giving brands and manufacturers the tools to be flexible in response, an optimised, transparent supply chain offers essential tools for the chain to become as sustainable as possible. With the right platforms, data can be provided and easily accessed across the chain in areas such as:
- Raw material sources used in production
- Managing and working with textile factories on issues such as environmental and production compliance, as well as working conditions and Health and Safety concerns
- The interconnected, global transportation and distribution of clothes to retailers and consumers
Supply chains need transparency
Transparency is absolutely a critical component for successful supply chains. A supply chain that is not transparent can lead to massive issues – including being unable to identify poor working conditions for garment workers, environmental damage and untraceable natural resource use. Compliance and commitment to sustainability are a lot easier to track in a transparent supply chain.
Optimised and consolidated supply chains allow brands and manufacturers to respond with innovation, increasing efficiency and timely reactions. Operations can be optimised to reduce costs, directing labour and resources in a timely way to meet customer and market trends. There’s no ‘guessing’ reducing the potential for waste.
Technology, including Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the potential way fashion supply chains can work. The high levels of available data and the way it’s presented and accessed gives brands and manufacturers access to information on demand. This speeds up processes across the supply chain, helping manufacturers to direct resources efficiently.
Transparency is also essential for consumers
Supply chain optimisation, as well as whole-chain transparency, isn’t just for brands and manufacturers. It’s also a vital way to connect consumers with sustainability as a concept. Accountability and transparency is an important marketing tool for brands, but it’s also a key step to encourage more sustainable purchasing decisions from consumers; potentially reducing consumer demand for high-volume, high eco-impact, low-cost fashion. Consumers have been actively calling for more information on sustainability, and connecting them with this data will allow them to make more informed decisions. Without this, it’s too easy for consumers to ignore the costs of high impact fashion; it’s simply too far removed for the average consumer faced with multiple options.
Intelligent supply chain technology is vital
The technology used to drive this supply chain transparency is vital. Robust, innovative technology allows brands, suppliers and consumers to be fully and transparently connected, driving optimisation and crucial sustainability commitment. The backdrop of global change presents a huge opportunity to achieve sustainable supply chains. But this needs data and supply chain management tools to close the gap between buyer expectations and supply chain transparency.
Bomler has created its platform comprising of Compliance Portal and supply chain management system to respond to these challenges. The platform allows brands to obtain transparent data from multiple suppliers in the chain, allowing brands to use it internally, and offer it to consumers quickly.
- Environmental and social impact
- Corporate social responsibility
- Supplier compliance and managing audits
- Provenance of resources
- Managing recyclability
- Uploading and sharing documents and certificates
Sustainably supply chains rely on information
Increasing brand consolidation and the need for optimised supply chains that are flexible, intelligent and sustainable rely on vital information. This data across the entire global chain generates critical transparency, connecting brands, manufacturers and consumers with textile provenance as well as corporate and environmental impact.
In addition to helping brands become more resilient in an ever-changing market place, platforms such as Bomler’s will allow consumers to make better, more sustainable decisions. Simplifying the sourcing process for all involved will increase pressure on brands to optimise as much as possible for better, actively environmentally sustainable solutions.